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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

Prediction: CIN 24, SFO 16

The Bengals are still searching for the ever elusive respectability but have won two of their last three games - both at home. They are only 1-5 on the road this year but the 49ers are just 1-5 at home and 1-10 since week two. Plus Shaun Hill will be the starter. The Bengals may even look like they have a defense this week.

Cincinnati Bengals (5-8)
Homefield: Paul Brown Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 BAL 27-20 +3 40.5
2 @CLE 45-51 -7 41.5
3 @SEA 21-24 +3 50
4 NE 13-34 +7.5 54
5 BYE - - -
6 @KC 20-27 -3 42
7 NYJ 38-31 -5.5 46.5
8 PIT 13-24 +3.5 48.5
9 @BUF 21-33 -1 43.5
10 @BAL 21-7 +4.5 44.5
11 ARI 27-35 -3 48.5
12 TEN 35-6 +1.5 42
13 @PIT 10-24 +7 46
14 STL 19-10 -7 47
15 @SF   -8.5 43
16 CLE 23-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
17 @MIA 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
CIN at SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer     250,2
RB Rudi Johnson 70,1    
RB Kenny Watson 10 40  
TE Reggie Kelly   10  
WR Chad Johnson   80  
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh   70,1  
WR Chris Henry   40,1  
PK Shayne Graham 1 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Bengals are set-up to reach a .500 season with road games against the 49ers and Dolphins and a homestand versus the Browns. The offense has been struggling a bit in recent weeks but at least the rushing game with Rudi Johnson is showing life again and if nothing else, these final weeks should post some very nice fantasy points. These last two weeks have seen the Bengals offense struggle, but playing in Pittsburgh is always tough and last week was a sold and wet game that is not the case on Sunday.

Quarterback: Carson Palmer really fell off his pace with the Steelers defense and then the weather last week depressing his numbers but he had been turning in multiple scores in most the previous weeks with very healthy passing yardage. On the road, Palmer had been throwing for over 270 yards every time until Pittsburgh.

Running Backs: Rudi Johnson has been running much better as of late with a score in each of the last three games but he has almost no role in the passing game and continues to share at least a little with both Kenny Watson and DeDe Dorsey. Watson remains the third down back with a role as a receiver but the Bengals have been intrigued by Dorsey in particular and he gained 81 yards on just four runs last week. Johnson remains the primary here but each week seems to be a bit more of a committee approach.

Wide Receivers: T.J. Houshmandzadeh now has a league leading 96 receptions for the year and is just four from tying Carl Pickens' single-season franchise record of 100 in 1996. He's been rock solid in points per reception leagues but his furious scoring pace that saw him score in each of the first eight games now has him with only one touchdown in the last five weeks. He's also been locked around 60 yards or less in five of the last six contests.

Chad Johnson continues to have a healthy year but only in total since he pinballs from monster games to as low as only 48 yards in a week. He has six scores on the year but they came in only three games and he only has one effort topping 100 yards in the last six weeks.

Chris Henry has managed to decline in every one of his five games played this year, starting out with 99 yards and decreasing each week until he only had one catch for 16 yards against the Rams.

Tight Ends: Not even one touchdown this year. Not one.

Match Against the Defense: The 49ers rushing defense did hold down Peterson last week but Taylor went nuts anyway and the 49ers have given up six rushing scores in the last five games. At home, they will play the run reasonably well since the Bengals like to split up duties now but there is a good chance that Rudi Johnson could log a rushing score here.

The 49ers secondary has been allowing one or two scores to any opponent with a decent passing attack and their overall rankings against the pass clock the fact that they lost almost every game anyway and most teams just run against them and enjoy constant short fields. Considering that the 49ers are now using Shaun Hill as quarterback, this game should be handled easily enough that Palmer will not need a big game here. I do like the chance that Houshmandzadeh gets back into the endzone this week.

Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 11 18 2 32 4 15
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 18 20 23 18 29 32


San Francisco 49ers (3-10)
Homefield: Monster Park
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 ARI 20-17 -3.5 45
2 @STL 17-16 +3 44
3 @PIT 16-37 +9 35.5
4 SEA 3-23 +1.5 40.5
5 BAL 7-9 +3.5 34.5
6 BYE - - -
7 @NYG 6-33 +9.5 40
8 NO 10-31 +2.5 40
9 @ATL 16-20 +3 37
10 @SEA 0-24 +10 39.5
11 STL 9-13 +2.5 41
12 @ARI 37-31 +10 38
13 @CAR 14-31 +3 35.5
14 MIN 7-27 +7.5 39
15 CIN   +8.5 43
16 TB 23-Dec SUN 8:15 PM
17 @CLE 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
SFO vs CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Shaun Hill     210,1
RB Frank Gore 70 50  
TE Vernon Davis   60,1  
WR Darrell Jackson   30  
WR Arnaz Battle   20  
WR Ashley Lelie   20  
PK Joe Nedney 3 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: The 49ers continue to play out a nightmarish season and were it not for the Cardinals, the team could be challenging records for offensive ineptitude. The offense was already little more than Gore in every way they could use him and now Trent Dilfer will miss this game meaning that Shaun "who?" Hill gets the start. Next week will be hosting the Buccaneers which is hopeless since they have a defense and the final road game is in Cleveland but the 49ers rarely show up away from San Francisco so this week would have been as good as it gets - at least until they are using a little known career practice squad quarterback as the starter.

Quarterback: Shaun Hill has been in the league for six years and had never thrown an NFL pass until last week when he relieved the injured Trent Dilfer and threw for 180 yards and a score against the soft Vikings secondary in a game that was decided early on. But Hill did complete 22 of 28 passes and only had one interception so he won't be any worse than what we've seen from the 49ers this year. Unfortunately, what they need is someone who is markedly better.

Running Backs: While there is no disagreement that Frank Gore has been a huge disappointment this year, at least the 49ers have gone to using him much more as a receiver over the last month and he has caught 29 passes in just the last four games for 231 yards. He remains safely under 70 rushing yards in most games but at least props up his fantasy value as a receiver and with Hill last week, Gore turned in eight catches for 49 yards against gaining only 68 rushing yards on 16 carries.

Wide Receivers: With Hill as the starter last week, no wideout had more than Darrell Jackson's four catches for 24 yards though Arnaz Battle scored once on his two receptions for 13 yards. Hill relied on Gore and Vernon Davis more than any wideout. This unit has been one of the worst all season long and there is no reason to expect improvement now.

Tight Ends: Vernon Davis ended with five catches for 42 yards playing with Hill last week though he had no catches by halftime and the 49ers merely collected trash time yards last week. With a new quarterback, Davis should see his role at least maintain if not increase.

Match Against the Defense: The Bengals are only average against the run this year but Gore is the only weapon that the 49ers have. Expect a replay of last week with only moderate yardage but enough receiving action to merit a fantasy start. There is a chance that Gore scores here but he's been too unreliable to expect it.

Hill played reasonably well in his first NFL action and he is facing one of the softest secondaries in the league but Hill is not using the wideouts well (nor has any 49er quarterback) so look for a better game than week 14 but only marginally. Hill could manage two scores here as have most quarterbacks but one is a safer bet since Hill is so new at starting.

Gaining Fantasy Points SF 32 29 30 16 32 31
Preventing Fantasy Points CIN 24 14 30 19 23 17

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

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